Dr Sanjeev R. Acharya, Principal, SSR College of Pharmacy

Shri Sanjibhai Rupjibhai Delkar, the tribal rights activist, desired to create a world of education in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, a tribal territory, for the betterment of the people and to provide first-class academic training to elevate the lives of those living in the area. To fulfil this vision, Shri Mohanbhai S Delakarand, his son and a former member of the Lok Sabha, established the SSR Memorial Trust as a tribute to him. Thus started the journey of setting up an education hub in the year 2003, particularly keeping into view the requirement of the residents and industrial community. Since then, the SSR Memorial Trust has catered to the need of society with the highest quality education and to improve the employability of students, in particular in Dadra and Nagar Haveli. “The dream of providing higher education in the tribal region was accomplished by active support and association of academicians, professionals, industrialists, and technocrats. The motive was very clear to have local students understand that they do not need to move to the metro city for education,” says Dr Sanjeev R. Acharya, Principal, SSR College of Pharmacy. 

SSR College of Pharmacy was built with the highest-quality lab infrastructure, acid-resistant platforms, ample working space, and high-quality equipment. In addition to this, it caters to students through a unique mentoring policy where each faculty is allotted 20 students to constantly provide technical and professional guidance to build a career through an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the students. Through this program, mentors encourage learners to remain focused on their goals and support them to achieve growth in specific courses and careers. To keep them on track, the institute also has a Daily  Assessment pattern for Practicals with 9 different parameters like Attendance, Viva, Experiment performance, Results of the experiment performed, Document Writing Skills, etc. This encourages them to study and attend college regularly. “Weak students are given personal counselling to motivate them and bring them back in the flow of regular students. They are also supported by remedial coaching,  assignments, tests, etc.,” says Dr Sanjeev. 

During these unprecedented times, SSR Institute strived to make education accessible. With COVID-19 in mind, the management, like many other institutions, was forced to adopt an e-learning platform to train future pharmacists. Overnight, the college acclimatized this move with an online timetable and became one of the first colleges to start teaching through online mode. Totally, 194 lectures were conducted till the end of the semester, and no student missed out on the learning process due to the pandemic. Online exams also proved to be a matter of concern during this time. But, SSR Institute managed to have a smooth transition by exposing students to an examination system with 40 exams and innumerable practice tests, making them ready to tackle bigger challenges and preparing them for real-life situations.

A shift for the better

“Sudden changes due to pandemics have inspired everyone to rethink the traditional model of the education system,” says Dr Sanjeev. With education becoming more theoretical than practical, students miss out on the hands-on experience they would have attained if not for COVID-19. At SSR College of Pharmacy, various initiatives have been taken up to maintain the quality of the teaching-learning process. Initially, practicals were demonstrated online. As the COVID peak flattened in the first wave, a one-week practical model was adopted. Each class could visit the institute for a week once a month. Students were required to perform their laboratory task for one week, and for the rest of the 3 weeks, they could study theory by virtual learning. This proved to be convenient for the students as they didn’t have to visit the institute every day, thus safeguarding their safety and wellbeing while providing a rounded education. 

For assessment of the teaching-learning process and to cater to the need of Pharma Industries, the institute implemented DE NOVO Rubric system, which inculcates knowledge with skill. Swayam was one initiative that was introduced in this regard. Students and faculty came together to create courses on YouTube and proved to increase the technical knowledge of the student and give them an edge over other competitors while conducting placement drives. Around 30 students have completed the Swayam course of their choice, where they learned new ICT tools for easy sharing of material and delivery of course. Also learned new software like  TESTMOZ, Quizizz, Nearpod for online examination and made the theory session more interactive. 

Apart from academics, SSR Institute also encourages students to show off their creative side through several co-curricular activities. GLP workshops, Entrepreneurship Awareness Camp, Alumni talks, and guest lectures have been organized to make them ready for the future. SSR College of Pharmacy changed its perspectives and improved on the system by including industry collaborations with Alumni, Medical companies, and other leaders from the medical field. The institute has MoU with BDR Pharma,  Valance Life Sciences, Green Cross Heath Innovation for research activity and other services. Industries have also helped the institute by donating high-end equipment to the institute for the training of students. “The institute has also collaborated with the industry for joint projects for the development of their new products.  However, there is huge scope for SSR College of Pharmacy for much more extensive collaborations, and the outcome on the base of this is yet to come,” says Dr Sanjeev.

Preparing for the Future

SSR Institute conducts numerous activities for students to make learning more hands-on, including regular industrial visits to bridge the gap between academic curriculum and pharmaceutical industrial practice under the guidance of Industrial-institute interaction cells. This plays an important role in gaining practical knowledge of the industrial process and equips students to better understand how the industry works. Students are also given industrial training during their course, where they undergo training under various departments such as production, quality control, quality assurance, packaging, and engineering. This allows the students to figure out what to choose for their career path and gain interest in the industrial process. 

With knowledge of the process comes the understanding of safely using chemicals and hazardous instruments. Students are made to understand the safety profile of each chemical and its handling, as per the Material Safety Data Sheet of each chemical they use for their practical work. “The institute takes additional efforts by organizing guest lectures from industry professionals for the overall development of the students. Each laboratory is maintaining documents as per GLP norms, and this makes the students ready for industry from day one,” states Dr Sanjeev. 

As technology continues to advance, there is a need to constantly update oneself with the latest innovation in the industry. Active learning techniques such as mobile learning, the use of ICT Tools for demonstrations, and industrial visits inspire students to explore the pharmaceutical industry’s future. By encouraging students to participate in conferences and seminars about the latest trends in the field, it brings out their creativity to come up with inventive ideas and methods. Few examples that indicated creativity in students were Sonal Pandy, who secured Second Rank at the University-level research project competition, and; Avishkar, Dipesh Surti, who secured Second Prize for poster presentation in Annual National Convention of Association of Pharmaceutical Teachers of India (APTICON). Over the years, SSR Institute continues to outdo itself. As a record, each year, students from the college secure a position in the top 10 ranks at Savitribai Phule Pune University. Priyanshi  Patel, an SSR Institute Alumni, received the “Academic Merit Award 2017” from Indian Pharmaceutical Association, Mumbai,  for securing the top position in Savitribai Phule Pune University Examination. “There are around 57 publications by M.Pharm students and 5 publications by B.Pharm students in peer-reviewed journals. Few research projects and Patents are in progress. Academic to Industry transits is generally difficult, but due to our day-to-day affairs, even faculties of the institute are being absorbed in Pharma Industry,” says Dr Sanjeev.

Being one of the top colleges for Pharmaceutical studies, the training that students undergo makes them immensely valuable upon graduation. To this effect, many students get placed at various companies like Sun Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd., Macleod’s Pharmaceuticals limited (Sarigam), INTAS Pharmaceuticals Limited, Meril  Diagnostic Pvt. Ltd, Zentiva Pharma, Ankleshwar, IQVIA RDS(India) Pvt. Ltd, and IPCA (Athal). Students are employed straight out of college in various departments, including QA, QC, R&D, and Production. Many also took up an academic career path and chose to become professors in institutions across the country. 

As the importance of the medical sector continues to drastically rise, there is a need for more people to get quality medical education to produce well-equipped individuals in order to avoid scarcity. In an effort to be qualified enough, SSR College of Pharmacy is pushing to attain a 12B certification from University Grant Commission (UGC, New Delhi) to get financial assistance from UGC. The college is also planning to get NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories) Accreditation for testing laboratory and plans to set up a Sophisticated Analytical Instrumentation Facility (SAIF) for the Union Territory of Dadra & Nagar Haveli to fulfil the research needs of the institute, nearby other institutes as well as industries. Upgrading laboratories of college and technical facilities with the Modernization and Removal of Obsolescence (MODROBS) scheme of AICTE is one more plan of the institute as they continue to plan a Research Center for PhD students and help nearby MSME sector for analytical and other support.

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